An Iconic Beauty Under Threat – Cassowaries

Australia’s iconic Cassowary is under threat of extinction.

I personally love the cassowary bird because of its unique beauty.

In Papua New Guinea(PNG), the cassowary is highly regarded in traditional myths as a source of life and spiritual energy. While cassowary is food in PNG cultures,  it is also kept as a pet. Cassowary feathers are used for headdress and bones used for tools. I remember my grandfather (mother’s father) kept a cassowary wing bone he used to stitch sago leaves together for our roof.  Some tribes, foe example the Abelam people in Sepik have used the femur of the cassowary birds to make weapons such as daggers (pictured below).

Cassowary daggers

The cassowary lives in north of Australia and PNG. I constantly read articles about the near-extinction of this giant bird and I wanted to share the awareness that if we in Australia (and PNG) are not careful, we will lose this species.

Southern Cassowary with three chicks crossing a road (photo courtesy of S. Hardy & D. Johnston) [Daintree to Port Douglas road, QLD, August 2013]
Why did the cassowary cross the road?

This question is no longer a joke.

According to Megan Neal at Houston Zoo website:

“Unfortunately, there’s no punch line and the situation is no laughing matter. Habitat loss and fragmentation have left the Australian population of cassowaries on the brink of extinction. These huge birds need large amounts of land to roam in search of food and to breed”.

Like other species, cassowaries’ habitat have been repeatedly destroyed by the boom in residential and commercial construction. Everyone wants to live near the rainforests of Australia, but there’s simply not enough room for everyone.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) answer to the question gives another example of the problem. The cassowary crossed the road because its habitat has been chopped in half by a freeway. So far this year, more cassowaries have died from speeding cars, dog attacks and habitat loss than in all of 2014.

ACF report said the modern-day hazards are now increasing the extinction risk.

“While local groups are doing great work to protect these gorgeous creatures, governments need to catch up! We need to transform our national nature protection framework so local, state and national laws work in together to protect life in Australia”.

Near-frontal view of a female-Southern Cassowary (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska) [Daintree NP, QLD, March 2015]
The cassowary is far-north Queensland’s flagship species for both the tourism industry and the World Heritage rainforests.

It is an iconic and unique species that deserves better than the devastating carnage it faces on regional roads throughout the Wet Tropics.

Sadly, 2015 is off to a particularly bad start for the endangered – and rather large – flightless bird with reports of at least six cassowaries killed between Mission and Bramston Beach this year.

Another cassowary was killed recently by domestic dogs on the Atherton Tableland.

Until recently, the remaining wild population was thought to be at around 2000. However, new research by the CSIRO estimates that the cassowary population may be more than double that at around 4400.

But this number is spread over 730,000 hectares of potential habitat with strong populations known in some areas and few or no records from other areas.

Read More on ACF Online News

28 thoughts on “An Iconic Beauty Under Threat – Cassowaries”

      1. Great! Thank you for asking. I have been sick for a bit – but have tried to keep up. I am doing a few other things as well – so pretty busy with writing assignments. Good to see you. Will talk to you again soon – we should Skype one day.x

        Liked by 1 person

  1. In America, there have been near extinction of the Bald Eagle, California Condor and Peregrine Falcon, but no longer. Some took the time, to save them. The California Condor was down to six birds, which were captured, bead and released back into the wild.
    Which means there is hope for your favorite bird.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can see why these beautiful birds are so prized by tribal people of PNG. They are uniqely beautiful in themselves – so I can see why they might be kept as pets. And the items the people make so skilfully are incredible. (Presumably this is after the animal has served as food?) I’m saddened to hear that these lovely creatures are now on the brink of extinction. Loss of habitat threatens so many species now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This brings back memories I have of seeing them near Josephine Falls in 2006 – I think it may have been some sort of sanctuary for injured ones?? I remember watching a guy wrestling with one and bringing it across to show us. Really powerful birds, but don’t deserve their ‘ferocious’ reputation!

    Liked by 1 person

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